Chihuahua (dog)
Overview
 
The is the smallest breed of dog
Dog
The domestic dog is a domesticated form of the gray wolf, a member of the Canidae family of the order Carnivora. The term is used for both feral and pet varieties. The dog may have been the first animal to be domesticated, and has been the most widely kept working, hunting, and companion animal in...

 and is so named for the state of Chihuahua in Mexico
Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

. Chihuahuas come in a wide variety of sizes, head shapes, colors and coat lengths.
The Chihuahua’s history is puzzling and there are many theories surrounding the origin of the breed. Both folklore and archeological finds show that the breed originated in Mexico. The most common theory and most likely is that Chihuahuas are descended from the Techichi, a companion dog favored by the Toltec
Toltec
The Toltec culture is an archaeological Mesoamerican culture that dominated a state centered in Tula, Hidalgo in the early post-classic period of Mesoamerican chronology...

 civilization in Mexico; however, no records of the Techichi are available prior to the 9th century.
Encyclopedia
The is the smallest breed of dog
Dog
The domestic dog is a domesticated form of the gray wolf, a member of the Canidae family of the order Carnivora. The term is used for both feral and pet varieties. The dog may have been the first animal to be domesticated, and has been the most widely kept working, hunting, and companion animal in...

 and is so named for the state of Chihuahua in Mexico
Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

. Chihuahuas come in a wide variety of sizes, head shapes, colors and coat lengths.

History

The Chihuahua’s history is puzzling and there are many theories surrounding the origin of the breed. Both folklore and archeological finds show that the breed originated in Mexico. The most common theory and most likely is that Chihuahuas are descended from the Techichi, a companion dog favored by the Toltec
Toltec
The Toltec culture is an archaeological Mesoamerican culture that dominated a state centered in Tula, Hidalgo in the early post-classic period of Mesoamerican chronology...

 civilization in Mexico; however, no records of the Techichi are available prior to the 9th century. It is probable that earlier ancestors were present prior to the Mayans as dogs approximating the Chihuahua are found in materials from the Pyramids of Cholula, predating 1530 and in the ruins of Chichen Itza on the Yucatán Peninsula.

Some historians believe that the Chihuahua came from the island of Malta
Malta
Malta , officially known as the Republic of Malta , is a Southern European country consisting of an archipelago situated in the centre of the Mediterranean, south of Sicily, east of Tunisia and north of Libya, with Gibraltar to the west and Alexandria to the east.Malta covers just over in...

 in the Mediterranean. More evidence for this theory lies in European paintings of small dogs that resemble the Chihuahua. One of the most famous paintings is a fresco
Fresco
Fresco is any of several related mural painting types, executed on plaster on walls or ceilings. The word fresco comes from the Greek word affresca which derives from the Latin word for "fresh". Frescoes first developed in the ancient world and continued to be popular through the Renaissance...

 in the Sistine Chapel
Sistine Chapel
Sistine Chapel is the best-known chapel in the Apostolic Palace, the official residence of the Pope in Vatican City. It is famous for its architecture and its decoration that was frescoed throughout by Renaissance artists including Michelangelo, Sandro Botticelli, Pietro Perugino, Pinturicchio...

 by Sandro Botticelli
Sandro Botticelli
Alessandro di Mariano di Vanni Filipepi, better known as Sandro Botticelli was an Italian painter of the Early Renaissance...

 dated 1480–1482. The fresco, depicting the Trials of Moses, shows a boy holding a tiny dog with round head, large eyes, big ears, and other characteristics similar to those of the Chihuahua. The painting was finished ten years before Columbus
Christopher Columbus
Christopher Columbus was an explorer, colonizer, and navigator, born in the Republic of Genoa, in northwestern Italy. Under the auspices of the Catholic Monarchs of Spain, he completed four voyages across the Atlantic Ocean that led to general European awareness of the American continents in the...

 returned from the New World
New World
The New World is one of the names used for the Western Hemisphere, specifically America and sometimes Oceania . The term originated in the late 15th century, when America had been recently discovered by European explorers, expanding the geographical horizon of the people of the European middle...

. It would have been impossible for Botticelli to have seen a Mexican dog, yet he depicted an animal strikingly similar to a Chihuahua.

A progenitor of the breed was reputedly found in 1850 in old ruins near Casas Grandes
Casas Grandes
Casas Grandes is the contemporary name given to a pre-Columbian archaeological zone and its central site, located in northwestern Mexico in the modern-day Mexican state of Chihuahua. It is one of the largest and most complex sites in the region...

 in the Mexican state of Chihuahua from which the breed gets its name, although most artifacts relating to its existence are found around Mexico City. The state borders Texas
Texas
Texas is the second largest U.S. state by both area and population, and the largest state by area in the contiguous United States.The name, based on the Caddo word "Tejas" meaning "friends" or "allies", was applied by the Spanish to the Caddo themselves and to the region of their settlement in...

, Arizona
Arizona
Arizona ; is a state located in the southwestern region of the United States. It is also part of the western United States and the mountain west. The capital and largest city is Phoenix...

 and New Mexico
New Mexico
New Mexico is a state located in the southwest and western regions of the United States. New Mexico is also usually considered one of the Mountain States. With a population density of 16 per square mile, New Mexico is the sixth-most sparsely inhabited U.S...

 in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, where Chihuahuas first rose to prominence. Since that time, the Chihuahua has remained consistently popular as a breed, particularly in America when the breed was first recognized by the American Kennel Club
American Kennel Club
The American Kennel Club is a registry of purebred dog pedigrees in the United States. Beyond maintaining its pedigree registry, this kennel club also promotes and sanctions events for purebred dogs, including the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, an annual event which predates the official...

 in 1904. In terms of size, the present day Chihuahua is much smaller than its ancestors, a change thought to be due to the introduction of miniaturized Chinese dogs, such as the Chinese crested dog
Chinese Crested Dog
The Chinese crested dog is a smaller hairless breed of dog. Like most hairless dog breeds, the Chinese crested comes in two varieties, both with and without fur, which are born in the same litter: the Hairless and the Powderpuff....

, into South America by the Spanish
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

.

Description and standards

Breed standard
Breed standard
A breed standard in animal fancy and animal husbandry is a set of guidelines which is used to ensure that the animals produced by a breeder or breeding facility conform to the specifics of the breed....

s for this dog do not generally specify a height, only a weight and a description of their overall proportions. As a result, height varies more than within many other breeds. Generally, the height ranges between six and ten inches; however, some dogs grow as tall as 12 to 15 inches (30 to 38 cm). Both British and American breed standards state that a Chihuahua must not weigh more than six pounds for conformation
Conformation (dog)
Conformation in dogs refers solely to the externally visible details of a dog's structure and appearance, as defined in detail by each dog breed's written breed standard. A dog that conforms to most of the items of description in its individual breed standard is said to have good conformation...

. However, the British standard also states that a weight of two to four pounds is preferred and that if two dogs are equally good in type, the more diminutive one is preferred. The Fédération Cynologique Internationale
Fédération Cynologique Internationale
Fédération Cynologique Internationale is an international federation of kennel clubs based in Thuin, Belgium. The English language translation, World Canine Organisation, is not often used.Its goals are described in Article 2 of their regulations:...

 (FCI) standard calls for dogs ideally between 1.5 and 3.0 kg (3.3 to 6.6 lbs.), although smaller ones are acceptable in the show ring. Pet-quality Chihuahuas (that is, those bred or purchased as companions rather than show dogs) often range above these weights, even above ten pounds if they have large bone structures or are allowed to become overweight. This does not mean that they are not purebred Chihuahuas; they do not meet the requirements to enter a conformation show
Conformation show
Conformation shows, also referred to as breed shows, are a kind of dog show in which a judge familiar with a specific dog breed evaluates individual purebred dogs for how well the dogs conform to the established breed type for their breed, as described in a breed's individual breed standard.A...

. Oversized Chihuahuas are seen in some of the best, and worst, bloodlines. Typically the breed standard for both the long and short coat chihuahua will be identical except for the description of the coat.

Chihuahua breeders often use terms like Teacup, Pocket Size, Tiny Toy, Miniature or Standard to describe puppies. These terms are not recognized by the breed standards and are considered marketing gimmicks to inflate the value of puppies. Chihuahuas are commonly referred to as either Apple heads or Deer heads, the former having short noses and rounded heads similar to that of an apple; the latter having longer noses and more elongated heads.

Coat

The Kennel Club in the United Kingdom and the American Kennel Club in the United States only recognize two varieties of Chihuahua: the long-coat, and the smooth-coat, also referred to as short-haired. They are genetically the same breed. The term smooth-coat does not mean that the hair is necessarily smooth, as the hair can range from having a velvet touch to a whiskery feeling. Long-haired Chihuahuas are actually smoother to the touch, having soft, fine guard hairs and a downy undercoat, which gives them their fluffy appearance. Unlike many long-haired breeds, long-haired Chihuahuas require no trimming and minimal grooming. Contrary to popular belief, the long-haired breed also typically sheds less than their short-haired counterparts. It may take up to two or more years before a full long-haired coat develops.

Colors

Chihuahuas come in virtually any color combination, from solid to marked or splashed, allowing for colors from solid black to solid white, spotted, sabled, or a variety of other colors and patterns. Colors and patterns can combine and affect each other, resulting in a very high degree of variation. Common colors are fawn, red, cream, chocolate, blue, and black. No color or pattern is considered more valuable than another.

The merle coat pattern, which appears mottled, is not traditionally considered part of the breed standard. In May 2007, The Kennel Club
The Kennel Club
The Kennel Club is a kennel club based in London and Aylesbury, United Kingdom.The Kennel Club registration system divides dogs into seven breed groups. The Kennel Club Groups are: Hound, Working, Terrier, Gundog, Pastoral, Utility and Toy...

 decided not to register puppies with this coloration due to the health risks associated with the responsible gene, and in December of that year formally amended the Breed Standard to disqualify merle dogs. The Fédération Cynologique Internationale
Fédération Cynologique Internationale
Fédération Cynologique Internationale is an international federation of kennel clubs based in Thuin, Belgium. The English language translation, World Canine Organisation, is not often used.Its goals are described in Article 2 of their regulations:...

, which represents the major kennel club of 84 countries, also disqualified merle. Other countries' kennel clubs, including Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Germany, have also disqualified merle. However, in May 2008, the Chihuahua Club of America voted that merles would not be disqualified in the United States, and would be fully registrable and able to compete in American Kennel Club
American Kennel Club
The American Kennel Club is a registry of purebred dog pedigrees in the United States. Beyond maintaining its pedigree registry, this kennel club also promotes and sanctions events for purebred dogs, including the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, an annual event which predates the official...

 (AKC) events. Opponents of merle recognition suspect the coloration came about by modern cross-breeding with other dogs, and not via natural genetic drift
Genetic drift
Genetic drift or allelic drift is the change in the frequency of a gene variant in a population due to random sampling.The alleles in the offspring are a sample of those in the parents, and chance has a role in determining whether a given individual survives and reproduces...

.

Temperament

A Chihuahua must be chosen with care, as the temperament of its owner can make a difference in the temperament of the pup. Ill tempered Chihuahuas can be easily provoked to attack, and are therefore generally unsuitable for homes with small children. The breed tends to be fiercely loyal to one particular owner and in some cases may become over protective of the person, especially around other people or animals.If properly managed by older children, 13 and up, they can adapt to this kind of living with a dedicated owner. They do not always get along with other breeds, and tend to have a "clannish" nature, often preferring the companionship of other Chihuahuas over other dogs. These traits generally make them unsuitable for households with children that are not patient and calm.
Chihuahuas love their dens and will often burrow themselves in pillows, clothes hampers, and blankets. They are often found under the covers or at the bottom of the bed, deep in the dark and safety of what they believe is their den.

Health disorders

This breed requires expert veterinary attention in areas such as birthing and dental care. Chihuahuas are also prone to some genetic anomalies, often neurological ones, such as epilepsy
Epilepsy in animals
Epilepsy can occur in animals other than humans . It is characterized by recurrent, unprovoked seizures. Canine epilepsy is often genetic. Epilepsy in cats and other pets is rarer, likely because there is no hereditary component to epilepsy in these animals.-Canine epilepsy:In dogs, epilepsy is...

 and seizure
Seizure
An epileptic seizure, occasionally referred to as a fit, is defined as a transient symptom of "abnormal excessive or synchronous neuronal activity in the brain". The outward effect can be as dramatic as a wild thrashing movement or as mild as a brief loss of awareness...

 disorders.

Chihuahuas, and other toy breeds, are prone to the sometimes painful disease hydrocephalus
Hydrocephalus
Hydrocephalus , also known as "water in the brain," is a medical condition in which there is an abnormal accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid in the ventricles, or cavities, of the brain. This may cause increased intracranial pressure inside the skull and progressive enlargement of the head,...

. It is often diagnosed by the puppy having an abnormally large head, or hydrocephalus, during the first several months of life, but other symptoms are more noticeable since "a large head" is such a broad description. Chihuahua puppies exhibiting hydrocephalus usually have patchy skull plates rather than a solid bone and typically are lethargic and do not grow at the same pace as their siblings. A true case of hydrocephalus can be diagnosed by a veterinarian, though the prognosis is grim.

Chihuahuas have molera
Molera
A molera is a "hole" in a Chihuahua's head; it is the same as a fontanelle in human babies. Historically, the Chihuahua as developed in Mexico and the United States has displayed a "hole in the head". In times past, this has been accepted as a mark of purity for this dog breed, and it is still...

s, or a soft spot in their skulls, and they are the only breed of dog to be born with an incomplete skull. The molera fills in with age, but great care needs to be taken during the first six months until the skull is fully formed. Some moleras do not close completely and will require extra care to prevent injury. Many veterinarians are not familiar with Chihuahuas as a breed and mistakenly confuse a molera with hydrocephalus.

Chihuahuas can also be at risk for hypoglycemia
Hypoglycemia
Hypoglycemia or hypoglycæmia is the medical term for a state produced by a lower than normal level of blood glucose. The term literally means "under-sweet blood"...

, or low blood sugar
Blood sugar
The blood sugar concentration or blood glucose level is the amount of glucose present in the blood of a human or animal. Normally in mammals, the body maintains the blood glucose level at a reference range between about 3.6 and 5.8 mM , or 64.8 and 104.4 mg/dL...

, which is especially dangerous for puppies. Left unattended, hypoglycemia
Hypoglycemia
Hypoglycemia or hypoglycæmia is the medical term for a state produced by a lower than normal level of blood glucose. The term literally means "under-sweet blood"...

 can lead to coma and death but can be avoided with frequent feedings, such as every three hours for very small or young puppies. Chihuahua owners should have a simple sugar supplement on hand to use in emergencies, such as, Nutri-Cal, Karo syrup or honey. These supplements can be rubbed on the gums and roof of the mouth to rapidly raise the blood sugar level. Signs of hypoglycemia
Hypoglycemia
Hypoglycemia or hypoglycæmia is the medical term for a state produced by a lower than normal level of blood glucose. The term literally means "under-sweet blood"...

 include lethargy, sleepiness, low energy, uncoordinated walking, unfocused eyes and spasms of the neck muscles or head pulling back or to the side.

Chihuahuas are prone to eye infections or eye injury due to their large, round, protruding eyes and their relatively low ground clearance. Care should be taken to prevent visitors or children from poking the eyes. The eyes also water frequently to remove dust or allergens that may get into the eye. Daily wiping will keep the eyes clean and prevent tear staining.

Collapsed trachea (reverse sneezing) is a health concern that is characteristic of the chihuahua breed.

Chihuahuas have a tendency to tremble but it is not a health issue. Instead, it occurs mainly when the dog is stressed, excited or cold. Cold can also present a problem for these small animals. They often enjoy wearing coats or sweaters when outside and enjoy digging and snuggling in blankets when sleeping.

Although figures often vary, as with any breed, the average lifespan range for a healthy Chihuahua is between 10 and 17 years.

Chihuahuas are sometimes picky eaters and care must be taken to provide them with adequate nutrition. Sometimes wet or fresh food can have the most appealing smell to these constant eaters. Chihuahuas are prone to hypoglycemia
Hypoglycemia
Hypoglycemia or hypoglycæmia is the medical term for a state produced by a lower than normal level of blood glucose. The term literally means "under-sweet blood"...

 and could be at a critical state if allowed to go too long without a meal. At the same time, care must be exercised not to overfeed them.

Chihuahuas have a notorious problem with dental issues. Dental care is a must for these little creatures. Human food should be avoided. Due to their small size, even tiny high fat or sugary treats can result in an overweight
Overweight
Overweight is generally defined as having more body fat than is optimally healthy. Being overweight is a common condition, especially where food supplies are plentiful and lifestyles are sedentary...

 Chihuahua. Overweight Chihuahuas are susceptible to having an increased rate of joint injuries, tracheal collapse, chronic bronchitis
Chronic bronchitis
Chronic bronchitis is a chronic inflammation of the bronchi in the lungs. It is generally considered one of the two forms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease...

, and shortened life span.

Chihuahuas are also known for a genetic condition called 'luxating Patella,' a genetic condition that can occur in all dogs. In some dogs, the ridges forming the patellar groove are not shaped correctly and a shallow groove is created. In a dog with shallow grooves, the patella will luxate or slip out of place, sideways. It causes the leg to 'lock up' and will force the chihuahua to hold its foot off the ground. When the patella luxates from the groove of the femur, it usually cannot return to its normal position until the quadriceps muscle relaxes and increases in length, explaining why the affected dog may be forced to hold his leg up for a few minutes or so after the initial displacement. While the muscles are contracted and the patella is luxated from its correct position, the joint is held in the flexed or bent position. The knee cap sliding across the femur can cause some pain due to the bony ridges of the femur. Once out of position, the animal feels no discomfort and continues with activity.

Chihuahuas are also prone to some heart related disorders such as heart murmurs and Pulmonic Stenosis, a condition in which the blood outflow from the heart's right ventricle is obstructed at the pulmonic valve.

Chihuahuas, along with other miniature dogs such as Chinese Cresteds
Chinese Crested Dog
The Chinese crested dog is a smaller hairless breed of dog. Like most hairless dog breeds, the Chinese crested comes in two varieties, both with and without fur, which are born in the same litter: the Hairless and the Powderpuff....

, are prone to physical deformities, especially in old age
Aging in dogs
Aging in dogs covers the impact of aging in the domestic dog , common medical and clinical issues arising, and life expectancy.As with humans, advanced years often bring changes in a dog's ability to hear, see and move about easily...

; several chihuahuas and cross-bred chihuahua/Chinese crested mixes have rated highly in the World's Ugliest Dog Contest
World's Ugliest Dog Contest
World’s Ugliest Dog Contest is an annual contest held in Petaluma, California, U.S., as part of the Sonoma-Marin Fair, to decide which of the dogs entered in the contest is the ugliest...

, including a purebred chihuahua named Princess Abby that won the 2010 contest and a crossbreed named Yoda that won the 2011 contest.

See also

  • Companion dog
    Companion dog
    Companion dog usually describes a dog that does not work, providing only companionship as a pet, rather than usefulness by doing specific tasks. Many of the toy dog breeds are used only for the pleasure of their company, not as workers...

  • Companion Dog Group
    Companion Group
    Companion Group is the name of a breed group of dogs, used by kennel clubs to classify a defined collection of dog breeds, and does not necessarily include all dogs kept as companions or pets. In some kennel clubs the Companion Group is called the Companion and Toy Group...

  • Dogs in Mesoamerica
    Dogs in Mesoamerica
    Various sorts of dogs are known to have existed in pre-Spanish Mesoamerica, as shown by archaeological and iconographical sources, and the testimonies of the 16th-century Spaniards. In the Central Mexican area, there were three races: the medium-sized furred dog , the medium-sized hairless dog ,...

  • Toy Group
    Toy Group
    Toy Group is the name of a breed Group of the smallest kinds of dogs, used by kennel clubs to classify a defined collection of dog breeds. Toy Group does not necessarily refer to one particular type of dog. Most major English-language kennel clubs include a Toy Group although different kennel clubs...


External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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